Skip to main content
5:30 pm
>> look for these titles and book stores this coming week and watch for the authors on booktv and on next on booktv, can budget talks about his book, the voluntarist. he talks about doing volunteer
5:31 pm
work in the u.s. and around the world. this was recorded in fairfax virginia and is about 20 minutes. >> host: "the voluntourist" is a book by ken budd. what is it about? >> guest: this is a way to do it if you can take two years to join the peace corps. postmark when did you start voluntary? >> guest: i started after hurricane katrina. host mark what caused you to do this? >> guest: it was one of those times in my life when i didn't know what i was doing, and that
5:32 pm
this opportunity came up and i thought was perfect because i had no skills whatsoever. i did whatever they ask for in skilled people come in, they clean up than they do the serious work. so we did very basic labor. but it was necessary later. >> host: did you feel that your two weeks in new orleans was worthy? >> guest: guesstimate everywhere that i went from a question that. i said, what can you really do in two weeks? beyond the fact that yes, it is helpful to paint a house, but there was an intangible quality that it was good to be in new orleans nine months after hurricane katrina. people were so happy to have tourists back in people in the city. >> host: ken budd, what were you doing for a living prior to volunteering? >> guest: i was an editor and i
5:33 pm
was an editor in washington dc and i am still doing the same job. >> host: how did you get all that time off? could use your vacation time. >> guest: yes, i use my vacation time. the problem is you are working the whole time, so you get back and think you need a vacation, but it is a great way to do itxp on your own schedule.xp8xxrxr8pp most of these chips are tax-deductible, which is nice as well. >> host: is voluntouring addictive? >> guest: it is. i would get home and think a while, once you step back, this was a very intense experience. it's very good.xpxpxxxzxrxxxpxr you sexze places in a differentr way.xp you are eating with locals andxp working with locals, they learnz about you when you learnxz about them postmarked in new orleans,
5:34 pm
who did you hook up with? how did you get to be a volunteer? is there an office? >> guest: my job. they were working for rebuilding together. it said they were looking for volunteers and i took it. rebuilding together is still working together. when i was back in new orleans in may, i saw the places that we worked out. now they are functioning neighborhoods. rebuilding together has had about 18,000 volunteers since hurricane katrina. the gentleman who runs the organization, we were driving through the city and he pointed out the houses and said that every one of these houses has been touched by volunteers. >> host: after new orleans, what was your next trip? >> guest: my wife and i taught english at an elementary school in cosa -- costa rica.
5:35 pm
it was a rather intense learning curve. it was first-graders through sixth graders. they had a different range of needs. it was a little tricky. >> host: in your two weeks during your time and costa rica teaching english, what did you accomplish? >> guest: i think it is an intangible thing. the kids did pick up some english when we were there. another volunteer was a teacher and she taught us some tricks. from a practical standpoint, their basic english grew when we were there. but the principle also told me that he has very limited resources. he can have volunteers teach english and then have the limited resources be invested in computers or something else. it's a win-win. >> host: where did you stay in costa rica?
5:36 pm
>> guest: we stayed in a dorm room. we stayed there in august. there were about 60 people when we were there. two weeks later, there were eight people. it was a great thing. we were living in such tight quarters that we maintained amazing friendships with people from the uk that we met. and that has been another unexpected benefit. >> host: what was ecuador like. >> guest: it was in the andes mountains, it was a two-hour place to get there. there were no roads. i felt bad we started the hike and i thought, thank goodness for the mules. so the volunteers, we help them collect data and we entered data and its beneficial for the scientist. it lets them do better things than the broader work. >> host: is that where this
5:37 pm
picture was taken in ecuador? to . >> guest: that is not actually need, we all pretended smear, but it's not. >> host: are there websites about this? >> guest: there is a website called >> host: ken budd, there is a lot of personal information in here as well. why is that? >> guest: i feel that you can always tell when someone's trying to write a book and when something is at stake. i was trying to determine how to live a life that matters and how to live a life with purpose. i think the reader knows when
5:38 pm
you're not being honest. and i felt like i had to do it. it was beneficial in a lot of ways personally. >> host: what do i think about the writing of this book. >> guest: it was kind of difficult. it forced us to address some things. >> host: detail that you are living a life with purpose right now? >> guest: times it is a setback to realize how much you cherish your life. in some ways my life has not changed. i'm in my same job, in the same home. but i feel like i'm a person of the world and not just an american or virginian. any money we get from the book is going back to the places where we volunteered. that has been particularly gratifying.
5:39 pm
>> host: tell us about kenya where he worked for two weeks. >> guest: there were three women's caring for 42 kids. we did whatever was necessary. we would fold clothes or wash clothes or server once. sometimes it was very quiet. at times there was just holding their babies. we would take a break from washing dishes and we would walk around with some of the kids and help them to walk and stuff. it was pretty emotional as far as an experienced. >> host: do you donate money at the same time? when you were there, did you buy things? >> guest: when we were there we would say we would like to do this or that as a thank you. we bought new mattresses for kids. but the woman who ran the phone
5:40 pm
said why don't you make dinner. but it sounds like a good idea, but making food for 42 children -- we made spaghetti. kenyans use charcoal grills. we put the water on, it didn't boil. and then i thought, we have a problem. it took an hour for the water to boil, but then we had 12 boxes of noodles and then i thought, that's what you want to do this. you want to do this bit of good. you really have to persevere and stick with it. so we learned later that these kids, that was the first type of meat dinner that they had in
5:41 pm
a-month. >> host: when you talk about your friends, do you ever say to you wish the u.s. government were doing diplomacy this way? >> guest: yes, i don't think that is a huge benefit. especially in the west bank. in 2009, i was still interacting with palestinians on that day. i don't think i've really got the palestinian perspective here. that has been a huge benefit. they are learning about us. we are learning about them. all of these aerial types start to crumble when you're just sitting around, and i found that in china and kenya and also with fellow volunteers. there were a lot of europeans. europeans have their own images of americans and that changes as well. even in costa rica. they think americans are lazy like the tv show that they see like friends. >> host: the subtitle of this book is wonderful.
5:42 pm
let's start with about bon jovi in bethlehem. >> guest: yes, we have volunteers in this restaurant from about 15 countries, most european. an italian woman started singing a song. a frenchwoman started singing a french folk song. and one of my american friends says we have to get in on this. so we started with some ballpark songs and sweet caroline. and then she found living on a prayer. it captured what could happen on this trip. here you are, people from 159ñ9÷ countries to singing=÷ bon jovi. >> host: how many people are doing these voluntour trips?
5:43 pm
>> guest: a lot of different people. some are baby-boom age, some were 60 and older in china, and i think the appeal is cannot you know, they are thinking about their legacy, they want to give back. it is a way to travel in it deeper way and immerse yourself in the culture. it is growing in popularity. and it's easier to do because he can do it in a short time period. >> host: did you coin the word voluntour? >> guest: i did not. there was nothing vacation like about any of the one-sided. this is work. you have your weekends free, you have your evenings free. but it was like having a job. and in china we would walk everyday to school. it was like a canoe.9÷=÷=ñ9ñ9ñ=ñ >> host: governments in china several times. walk us through that entire trip. how did you set it up?
5:44 pm
where were you? who did you hook up with? would you do over there? bulwer some of the cultural abnormalities that he faced? >> guest: i felt more discombobulated in china than anywhere else. i went through global volunteerism which is when the founders of the programs. it was really like a double whammy. i don't speak chinese. one of the other would've been intense toppled at the same time. and it was a little overwhelming. and i was with a little boy who had a developmental disability in third grade. he needed help with his skills and we would write numbers in chinese characters. i would take them places because he was slower than the other children. they took their naps across the street and another building and
5:45 pm
i would walk with him. the most beneficial thing was being there. these teachers were there, but we were like a break. if i did something stupid, they would nap. when i left, they said they seem to laugh more when they have volunteers here. >> host: what does your wife you? >> guest: my wife as a nurse. she ran on a medical mission to haiti. she knew it was a lot of work. and she has been supportive and came with me to costa rica and also to kenya. it was a great thing. we have been married 20 years. you suddenly see yourself doing these very different things in different roles, and it was interesting to see each other. and i think it helped us as a couple. >> host: where's your next trip? >> i get asked that a lot. i am focused on trying to help out places i have argued them.
5:46 pm
i would like to do another one like ecuador. a scientific project, it is a positive experience to be in a rain forest in such an isolated way and to be so far from humanity other than the group we were with. and you're with the scientist were pointing out things you would never see otherwise. just as a normal person. >> host: where were the worse living conditions? >> guest: definitely in the west bank in a refugee camp. we were separated and 90 small apartment building by gender. about 22 or 23 guys living in a one-room apartment with one bathroom and no shower and it got a little funky after two weeks. it was a difficult life in palestine.
5:47 pm
>> host: what is your connection to george mason? >> guest: i am a george mason graduate and i'm a season ticket holder for the basketball team. i am on campus a lot, and it's great to be here for fall for the book festival. it has grown so much during the time i have been here. it's great to see. >> host: who is robert budd. >> guest: he is my father. he died very suddenly. people he worked with, he said, your father changed my life. he was an extremely poor guy, but he was smart and ambitious and he worked his way up to a fortune 500 company, management level, but he never forgot where he started and what it was like to be hungry. and he always took care of the people. he made them successful and
5:48 pm
after he passed away, i read his letters. and i thought, what am i doing? were people going to say about me when it's my turn to go back to theirs. >> host: you establish a foundation or scholarship here? >> guest: yes, yes i did. though robert m. budd scholarship foundation. >> host: we have put out your twitter candle in case people are able to get hold of you. ken budd. "the voluntourist" is the book. thank you so much. >> is there a nonfiction author or book book you'd like to see featured on the tv? send us an e-mail at or tweet us at
5:49 pm >> america ranks 29th in the speed of internet behind bolivia and ukraine. obey the. >> we pay 38 times with the japanese pay for information. you pay on average with taxes $160. in france you pay her $8 and you get worldwide calling 70 countries, not just the u.s. and canada. you get worldwide television. not just domestic. enter internet is 29 times faster uploading and downloading. and you're paying less than 25 cents on the dollar. all of these other countries understand a fundamental principle. in the 19th century, canals and railroads were the key to economic growth of industrialization.
5:50 pm
you had to move heavy things like steel. the 20th century came on. it was highways and the interstate highway program, for example, and airports that were crucial to economic growth. now if the information superhighway. what is the does the industry say? don't call it that anymore. >> david johnson on the ways corporations try to rob you blind tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern on "after words." and tomorrow watch for tom wolfe. that is opening night at miami's book fair international. >> this book, in particular, deals with at its heart, with several subjects. but the subtitle is boom and bust in the u.s. that is the way the economy affects our lives and the way the economy gets into our very
5:51 pm
bodies. it is a book about my arrival in the winter of 1997 when i was broke. i was also broken. and i was on drugs. i was in mexico city where i had gone under a book contract from new york. i got an advance from a new york publisher to write a book. it was a dream come true. in mexico city, by november of 1997, i had crossed the deadline and i didn't have a word written. and i was broke. and i called the only friend i could count on at that time.
5:52 pm
my lifestyle ruined a lot of friendships. and i said, aria, help me, porfavor. there are a whole lot of circumstances. how did she wind up in the desert? welcome everybody has a story of how they got there. she said we will take care of you, we will give you a place to live. shortly thereafter, i arrived in the desert, and one of the first things that i saw when i rented my little shack out in the sand next to a sign that said the next service is 100 miles, the town east of joshua tree, i felt
5:53 pm
driven to go further out. she and her friends were right at the edge of a beautiful national park. you guys know of joshua tree? you lease new u2 album. going this way and that. well, i wanted to go further out. there was something existential it was driving me further and further out into the big empty nothing, as they say about the desert. and also because the further out you went, the rents are cheaper and cheaper. so i was paying $275 a month for a two bedroom house with 5 acres of land on the edge of twentynine palms. right where that sign says. that is where the book begins. it begins with a personal crisis and arrives -- it was no
5:54 pm
accident that i arrived at this particular landscape. it has been the site of her sort of pilgrimage. at that particular moment, i don't think i was aware of what i was doing. i did not say to myself, i am in big trouble with my life, i must go kill myself in the desert. but ultimately, that is what i was entering. later on, all the symbolism was there to receive me. and i began the process of healing and getting to know this place, which included, almost immediately, dealing with the fact that i was arriving in a landscape that had as many problems as mexico city with drugs. i was coming from a place of addiction and all the pain in and the struggle that goes with that. i was arriving in a place where
5:55 pm
meth labs were exploding. and where young marines were training and doing lots of drugs to escape the terrible reality in their heads and in their bodies. so if i was going to a site of ancient symbolism of restorative pilgrimage, i was also entering a place that was the opposite of that. a phantasmagorical place. many years after i moved to joshua tree and twentynine palms, i met my partner, angela garcia. she is here tonight. she has also written a wonderful book about the desert called the pastoral clinic about addiction. i met angela far away from the desert, but she is from the desert. that is one of the things that,
5:56 pm
you know, i think i fell for it about her immediately. the fact that she was a desert girl. a western girl. she was from new mexico, albuquerque. and we ended up living in new mexico together while she was doing research for her dissertation on addiction. she is a medical anthropologist at stanford university. we have some stanford people here representing tonight. so we went to another landscape, northern new mexico, which i had already seen. i had dinner a couple times as a tourist when i was younger. but we had all seen northern new mexico at nottingham represented artistically. whether it was a little postcard in a truck stop order judge john
5:57 pm
nichols or george oki or how many westerns, you know, have we seen that have these landscapes? >> it has a powerful drive. the official state nickname is land of enchantment. it carries a new age mysticism with it. and it is chloe and warm and fuzzy and obscures reality. ultimately, that is what "desert america" is about. how we imagine the desert or had has been imagined forest by the many desert imagery's that have been created for us.
5:58 pm
the stage upon which real estate is sold and hotels and staying at hotels and hotel packages and etc. how complicated the actual human geography of the places. there is an imagined place and there is the reality place. and so i will take you to northern new mexico. angela chose northern new mexico. she is from central new mexico, albuquerque. both of our families have issues with addiction. that was another point of encounter between us. she chose northern new mexico not to be right next door to her family, you know. but close enough so that we could visit often. also because it runs along
5:59 pm
highway 68. it comes out of santa fe. so are you on that road, you are going through the low pass. it has a great deal of heroin use. the problem is it's not getting better, it's getting worse. you can watch this and other programs that live at the miami book fair international held on the campus of miami dade college on november 17 and 18. we will bring you can author talks and panel discussions, seven author interview segments and your chance to participate with facebook,

Book TV
CSPAN November 10, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm EST

Ken Budd Education. (2012) 'The Voluntourist A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem.' New.

TOPIC FREQUENCY China 5, U.s. 4, New Orleans 4, Costa Rica 4, Katrina 3, Ecuador 3, Kenya 3, Us 3, Angela 2, New Mexico 2, Mason 2, Albuquerque 2, America 2, Miami 2, Robert M. Budd 1, Johnson 1, Us An E-mail At 1, Caroline 1, Robert Budd 1, Tom Wolfe 1
Network CSPAN
Duration 00:30:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 91 (627 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 11/10/2012